Best Coffee Beans (Whole Bean Coffee)

Reviewed by Urban Bean Coffee Team

on October 7, 2021

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Products Considered

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Hours of Research

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Experts Interviewed

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Customers Consulted

Choosing good coffee beans from among dozens of brands can be tricky. It's very easy to get a stale or low-quality product.

But don't worry—in this article, I'll tell you which coffee beans are the best.

My name is John and I'm the editor-in-chief of Urban Bean Coffee. For over five years, I've been tasting a wide variety of coffees from different brands.

To compile a list of the best coffee beans, I had to study which beans each brand uses, as well as the quality of the roast and packaging.

While tastes vary from person to person, each product on this list deserves attention due to high quality and freshness.


OUR TOP PICK

Lifeboost Coffee

LifeBoost Coffee Medium Roast

I know you’re going to love this coffee. After one try, you’ll never go back to mass-produced toxin-loaded “generic” coffee.

Key Features

No pesticides, chemicals, GMOs, or mycotoxins

It is full bodied flavor with a great aroma and the packaging is natural and adorable

• Guaranteed single-origin 


SPECIALTY-GRADE COFFEE

Spirit Animal Coffee

Spirit Animal Light Roast Coffee

These specialty Arabica beans have a mild flavor with natural sweetness and a unique flavor profile: notes of mango, peach, and sugarcane or jasmine, rose tea, and juicy tropical fruits.

Key Features

Shade-grown coffee with a complex flavor

High-quality beans thanks to hand harvesting

50% discount on a set of 3 bags


BEST DARK ROAST

Volcanica Coffee

Volcanica Kona Coffee

It is unusual in that the bulk of the crop is gathered from wild coffee trees giving this coffee a truly exotic flavor with pleasant acidity.

Key Features

The perfect blend for espresso consists of high-quality beans from Colombia, Guatemala, and Sumatra
• Rich and superbly aroma with smoky chocolate notes
 Perfect for using in espresso machines


PREMIUM HAWAIIAN COFFEE

Koa Kona Coffee

Koa Coffee

If you are a coffee connoisseur who wants only the best, here is best Kona coffee brand, which was featured "Best in America" by Forbes.

Key Features

Perfect for espresso, French press, AeroPress, cold brew

Full bodied and smooth taste

Flavors of milk chocolate with citrus fruit


BEST FOR ESPRESSO

Equator Coffees

Equator Organic Coffee

It harmoniously combines everything you could want: sweetness, taste, aroma, and aftertaste. It doesn't matter how you prepare it, you are guaranteed to get a great cup.

Key Features

Organic and Fair trade certified

Flavors of chocolate, apricot, and hazelnut

Perfect dark roast coffee for espresso


The Best Coffee Beans

The best coffee is defined not just by taste but also by the quality of the beans, the growing and processing methods, the roasting profile, and, of course, the beans' freshness. Let's see which coffee beans are the best based on these variables.

1. Lifeboost Organic - Top Pick

Editor's Rating: 9.8

LifeBoost Coffee Medium Roast

Specifications

  • Beans: Single-origin 100% Arabica
  • Origin: Nicaraguan mountains
  • Roast: All roasts available
  • Best for: Any brewing method

Lifeboost uses specialty coffee grown at high elevations. To be considered specialty, coffee must score above 80 on the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) scale.

Lifeboost purchases beans from plantations in the Nicaraguan mountains. High-elevation plantations have optimal rainfall and day and night temperature fluctuations, and shade from other trees allows the coffee berries to ripen longer.

When coffee beans take longer to ripen, they absorb more nutrients and become sweeter, fuller, and more complex.

The coffee is harvested by hand at the peak of ripeness, is sorted to eliminate defects, is roasted, and is tasted by certified tasters called Q Graders.

In addition to featuring an excellent taste, these coffee beans are low in acidity, GMO-free, and free of mold and mycotoxins.


2. Spirit Animal Coffee — Specialty-Grade Coffee

Editor's Rating: 9.5

Spirit Animal Light Roast Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Specialty Arabica beans
  • Origin: Honduras
  • Roast: Light-medium
  • Best for: Pour-over, cold brew, French press

This is a mild coffee with a natural sweetness and unique flavor profile. You can taste notes of mango, peach, and sugarcane or jasmine, rose tea, and juicy tropical fruits.

Spirit Animal Coffee roasts only specialty Arabica. This means that the bags contain only top-quality coffee. You won't find broken beans or beans blackened, cracked, or tainted by insects or mold.

On the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) scale, coffee requires a score of more than 80 to qualify for the specialty category. Spirit Animal uses beans with a score of 88 to 90.5. Coffee that's rated 90 points and above is usually reserved for championships and special roasts rather than mass sale.

The company has a lucrative offer right now. You can order a set of 3 bags of coffee with a 50% discount. This is enough for 100-120 cups, so it's an excellent opportunity to enjoy delicious high-quality coffee for a long time and save money at the same time.


3. Volcanica Coffee Company - Dark Roast Blend

Editor's Rating: 9.3

Volcanica Kona Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Arabica blend
  • Origin: Colombia, Guatemala, and Sumatra
  • Roast: Dark
  • Best for: Espresso

This coffee is a blend of Arabica beans from the best coffee-growing regions: Colombia, Guatemala, and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Volcanica chose these countries for a reason—each is famous for its high-quality coffee beans.

In Sumatra, coffee is harvested exclusively by hand, which greatly reduces the possibility of defective beans getting to customers.

Colombian coffee beans bring to the blend their fruity and nutty flavor notes, while Guatemalan coffee beans contribute a rich, smoky aroma that is loved all over the world.

This blend has a dark roast profile that gives the coffee a smoky flavor with pronounced chocolate and caramel notes. If you're a fan of this roast, we recommend you check out our list of the best dark roasted coffee beans.


4. Koa Coffee - Premium Hawaiian Coffee

Editor's Rating: 9.0

Koa Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: 100% Peaberry Kona
  • Origin: Hawaii
  • Roast: Medium
  • Best for: Espresso, French press, AeroPress, cold brew

Koa Coffee sells Kona, a premium Arabica variety that is only grown on the slopes of two Hawaiian volcanoes: Hualalai and Mauna Loa.

The medium roast brings out the sweet taste that is characteristic of Kona coffee. There are notes of nuts, honey, butter, cocoa, fruits, and caramel, and the aftertaste has a grapefruit-like bitterness.

The special thing about this Kona coffee is that it is Peaberry, which is called the “Champagne of Kona” because of its high-quality taste. Peaberry coffee is the result of a natural mutation in which the coffee cherry forms one small oval-shaped bean instead of two flat-sided beans.

This coffee roasts more evenly, making the taste rich, smooth, and balanced. For this reason, we've included Koa Peaberry coffee in our list of the best Kona coffees.

Peaberry coffee can't be grown on purpose. It is always an accident that can only be discovered when harvesting by hand.


5. Equator Coffees - Best for Espresso

Editor's Rating: 8.7

Equator Organic Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Arabica blend
  • Origin: Peru, Sumatra, Ethiopia
  • Roast: Dark
  • Best for: Espresso, French Press

Equator Coffees has created a sweet-tasting espresso blend that combines the aromas of fruits, berries, dark chocolate, and spices.

The dark roast adds a slight bitterness and roasted hazelnut notes.

To preserve the flavors during roasting, the company blends high-quality coffee beans processed in different ways: washed, wet-hulled, and natural.

The wet-hulled method brings out notes of tropical fruits and red berries and allows you to get a drink with a rich body. Natural processing gives a bright sweetness, and washed processing gives a fruity acidity.

Equator Coffees cares about the environment and farmers. The coffee is Fair Trade and USDA Certified Organic. It also ranks high in our list of the best organically grown coffee beans.


6. Lion Coffee - Value for Money Pick

Editor's Rating: 8.5

Hawaii Lion Kona Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Single-origin 100% Kona
  • Origin: Hawaii
  • Roast: Medium-light
  • Best for: French press, cold brew

We chose this coffee because it is a great opportunity to taste authentic Kona Arabica at an affordable price.

Coffee lovers appreciate it for its bright, rich flavors: tropical fruits, cocoa, butter, nuts, and caramel. The taste is unique because of the conditions in which the coffee trees grow.

Kona plantations are located on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes. The soil is rich in minerals, and the optimal balance of sunlight, shade, and moisture allows the berries to ripen slowly and accumulate a lot of organic acids and sugars.

Lion coffee is recognized as the best in Hawaii, so you can be sure you'll get 100% Kona.


7. Coffee Bros. - Best on Amazon Pick

Editor's Rating: 8.0

Coffee Bros Medium Roast Coffee beans

Specifications

  • Beans: Arabica blend
  • Origin: Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia
  • Roast: Medium
  • Best for: Any brewing method

This company was launched in May 2019 and in a very short time, has gained great popularity and high ratings.

Originally Coffee Bros. sold four classic coffee bean blends: light, medium, dark, and espresso roasts. But now they have a wide range of beans. They added cold brew, decaf, and single-origin varieties.

Buyers note the excellent aroma, high-quality coffee bean roasting, and always-fresh coffee. It is also worth noting that the products are very affordable.

Coffee Bros. uses only the finest Arabica coffee beans. For each roast, the company uses different blends of coffee from different countries to get the best taste.

They also work with One Tree Planted and plants a tree for every 5 bags of coffee sold.


8. Trade Coffee - Coffee Subscription

Editor's Rating: 9.5

Drinktrade Coffee Subscription

Specifications

  • Beans: All types of coffee beans
  • Origin: Best coffee sellers over the world
  • Roast: All types of roast
  • Best for: Any brewing method

Trade Coffee is not a coffee roaster. Instead, the company partners with over 50 high-quality roasters throughout the United States. This means customers can choose from over 400 individual coffees that are fairly evenly divided blends and single-origin coffees.

Also, if you are not sure which coffee to choose, Trade Coffee has a quiz that selects the best tasting coffee beans for you based on your preferences in taste, roast, aroma, and brewing method.

Not only popular coffees are available, but also the rarest and limited-edition coffees.

A nice bonus for you will be a 30% discount on your first purchase.

But the benefits don't end there. The company often runs profitable promotions.


What to Look For When Buying Coffee Beans

You don't have to know the basics of coffee beans to find the best whole bean coffee, as we have already done that. But if you want to better navigate among the huge number of varieties and blends, check out this buying guide we've prepared for you.

What Type of Coffee Maker Are You Using?

Each brewing method has nuances that reveal different elements of different types of coffee.

If you are looking for the coffee beans for at home espresso machine, consider Arabica blends or Arabica-Robusta blends.

These are designed to give espresso a consistent taste from shot to shot.

Light-roasted single-origin beans work well for pour-over coffee.

These beans retain the notes of flowers, berries, and fruits that are so well revealed with pour-over brewing.

Immersion brewing methods' long extraction times can result in an overly dense and overly bitter beverage.

So if you're making coffee in a French press, choose a light or medium roast. Also pay attention to coffee beans that have a naturally softer taste, like beans from Honduras, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

What Flavors Are You Seeking?

For those who love a drink with a light body, bright acidity, and aromas of flowers, berries, and fruits, light-roasted coffee beans are perfect.

If you want a coffee with balanced acidity, sweetness, and bitterness, then choose a medium roast.

Medium roast coffee still retains its fruity and berry acidity, but the longer roasting time adds milk chocolate, nut, and caramel flavors.

For those who love bitter coffee, a dark roast coffee is a good choice. With dark-roasted beans, you can make a drink that has a dense body and pronounced bitterness without acidity.

This roast level is characterized by aromas of dark chocolate, tobacco, smoke, burnt caramel, and toasted bread.

Coffee's taste can have subtle nuances based on its place of cultivation and its roast. Not everyone will notice the nuances.

For those looking for a distinct flavor like orange, Irish cream liqueur, strawberry cheesecake, or apple strudel, some producers create flavored coffee, and the choice of flavors is simply huge.

Arabica Beans vs Robusta Beans

The taste of Arabica coffee is softer, sweeter, and richer. It's also more intense and acidic.

Robusta has a more bitter taste and less intense aroma. Robusta beans are often added to espresso blends to get a consistent flavor and good crema.

When looking for the good coffee, you've probably wondered: Which is better, single-origin coffee or a blend of several varieties?

Single-origin coffee beans are grown and harvested in the same region and are processed using the same method. Their flavor notes are typical of the area in which they're grown.

Coffee connoisseurs appreciate the unique flavor of each variety. Like sommeliers, they sample coffees from different regions to gain new experiences and savor new flavors.

But not everyone will like single-origin coffee. Its taste is not always smooth and balanced.

If you value stability and balance in your coffee, try blends.

A blend of several varieties allows you to get a soft drink and new combinations of tastes and aromas.

Acidity and Bitterness

Acidity is a normal flavor characteristic of coffee, as is the case with other tropical berries and fruits. But in some varieties, it is more pronounced than in others.

Its intensity depends on the elevation at which the coffee is grown, the processing method, the roast level, and the brewing method.

If you are looking for a pronounced acidity in coffee, choose coffee that is grown at high altitudes, washed-processed, and light-roasted.

Don't like the acidic taste of coffee or have digestive problems after drinking a cup? Try low-acid coffees.

The bitterness of coffee is influenced by the quality and variety of the beans, the roast level, and the brewing method.

Do you like bitter coffee? Try Arabica-Robusta blends, which are more bitter than 100% Arabica coffee, and choose dark roasts.

Roast Date

If you buy the coffee beans but they are stale, you won't be able to make a delicious drink.

To brew fresh coffee, choose beans that have the roast date—not the expiration date—on the bag.

Flavor lasts for 2–3 weeks after roasting but peaks 5–7 days after roasting.

Certifications

If you buy Fair Trade coffee beans, you are making a deal that benefits both you and the farmer.

Farmers are guaranteed good working conditions and assistance in finding new clients.

You get quality coffee and can be sure that the rights of the coffee workers have not been violated.

The USDA Organic certification means the coffee is grown on trees that have not been treated with chemicals or pesticides.

The Kosher certification means that the coffee meets Jewish religious standards for food and drink.

Direct Trade means the coffee is traded without the participation of importers or exporters. The farmer and roaster make a trade agreement directly with each other.

This helps farmers make more profit by eliminating middlemen and makes it easier for you as a buyer to trace the origin of the coffee

Coffee Regions

The taste and aroma of coffee depend on the place where it's grown.

Climate conditions, elevation, and the number of sunny days all affect your cup of coffee.

Coffee made from Brazilian beans is prized for its balanced taste. Depending on the region of origin, the aroma may contain nutty, floral, or chocolate notes.

The main advantages of Colombian coffee are a refined, delicate aroma and taste, moderate acidity, and fruity and nutty notes.

Coffee from Honduras is soft and balanced. Its taste is dominated by chocolate, nuts, apricots, and tropical fruits, and you can catch vanilla and nuts in the aroma.

Ethiopian coffee is characterized by floral and berry flavors as well as by herbal and wine tones.

Indonesian coffee contains notes of hot spices and nuts. Its taste is tart and rich.

Where to Buy the Coffee Beans

As true coffee lovers, we always strive to brew a delicious drink, which is only possible when using fresh beans.

Therefore, our advice is to buy coffee directly from roasters.

They roast coffee beans to order and immediately pack the beans and send them to your home.

The beans don't lie in store warehouses, growing stale as the company awaits and order, as is the case with Amazon or Walmart.

Conclusion: What Brand Sells the the Best-Tasting Coffee?

Lifeboost Coffee sells the coffee with the best taste. The beans are grown in the mountains of Nicaragua, where they mature slowly in ideal climatic conditions, absorbing the best nutrients for a bright, unique taste.

Local farmers hand-harvest only ripe coffee cherries, rinse them with spring water, and dry them to an optimum moisture content of 11.5%.

This is how the high quality of each bag of coffee is achieved.

You get delicious pesticide-free, GMO-free, mold- and mycotoxin-free low-acid coffee.

Sources

  1. Arabica and Robusta Coffee Plant – Coffeeresearch.org
  2. Coffee Buying Guide – Consumer Reports
  3. Coffee Around the World – National Coffee Association USA